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November 26, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-26

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4- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 26, 1996

urie aIchwzpttn a

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
The silent majodty
MSA must motivate more students to vote

'Check the doors. Flush the toilets. Get a general
idea of the condition of the apartment.'
- Jani Platz, leasing marketing director for Prime Student Housing,
offering advice to students looking for off-campus housing
3'D4'- 8E i4 7t4dIEY 4ib s-Kr 4 iDuANk 7)te , ~
H A VE A S A F 7 k '7 1 AM 145J IVs V4?t7

T he results are in. And the Michigan
Student Assembly election voter
turnout was low. Each of the University's
largest schools and colleges saw between 12
and 16 percent of students cast ballots -
about 12 percent of LSA students voted last
Wednesday and Thursday. With more than
30,000 students at the University, these per-
centages mean very few students have
affected the outcomes. Students who don't
vote have no say in who represents them.
Presently, the small portion of voting
students are the same that vote every semes-
ter - and they tend to vote for the same
party in each election, mostly the Michigan
Party. The high number of returning repre-
sentatives demonstrates this. If more stu-
dents voted, the composition of the assem-
bly could change to better reflect students.
Moreover, the elected representatives could
claim a legitimate mandate.
Voter turnout correlates to students' inter-
est or trust in the assembly - or lack there-
of. The fewer students that vote, the less seri-
ously the administration will take MSA and
the student body, which will inhibit student
MSA president Fiona Rose, when she pre-
sents proposals at the regents table.
In last week's election, a ballot question
asked for a $1.50 raise in the student fee to
fund Project Serve and the Black Volunteer
Network. The ballot question raised some
controversy because BVN could receive
funding from MSA's Budget Priorities
Committee and Project Serve is a University
department - not a registered student
group. The proposal, fortunately, failed.
However, had it passed by such a small por-
tion of the community, the danger would
have become clear. With a little effort, the
two groups could have mobilized enough
voters to pass the proposal regardless of how
Cleari n
EPA proposal woul
Caution: Breathing may be hazardous to
your health.
The American Lung Association reports
that 64,000 people die prematurely each
year due to air pollution. The
Environmental Protection Agency esti-
mates 100 million of the United States' 263
million inhabitants face health problems
from breathing polluted air. EPA recently
announced its intention to combat air pollu-
tion. The federal agency has prepared the
toughest new air pollution rules in the last
two decades. For the health of environment,
as well as U.S. residents, the government
should embrace the new regulations and
implement them as soon as possible. .
The proposal would add tough new lim-
its on ground-level ozone, a large compo-
nent of urban smog. It also would limit fine
particles - dust-like pollutants that diesel
engines, power plants and burning wood
emit. Once the rules are proposed, the pub-
lic would have 60 days to comment before
final regulations are set in stone.
The proposal is well-designed; it ensures
that problem areas are targeted, not wasting
time or money in unaffected areas. The EPA
plan would give states more control. States

cprrently must impose controls, such as
auto emission tests, on any county not
meeting air quality standards, even if the
county is being affected by pollutants that
originated from a source miles away.
The new plan would let states go direct-
ly to the source of the problem. This flexi-
bility is important because nipping the
problem in the bud is much more effective
than trying to clean up the aftermath. EPA's
maran is . . r flaflirl t+n anntrarrza ti+flactof

the regular voters cast their ballots. The pro-
posal could have passed based on what
comes down to group size - and one group
could dominate the election, making deci-
sions for a diverse student body.
The students have demonstrated, by low
turnout and high apathy, that they do not
understand the impact or importance of
MSA - or that they don't care about the
issues that affect them. While students have
the right not to vote, they should weigh the
consequences seriously. MSA must contin-
ue to encourage students to vote and must
seek out new and innovative ways for
attracting students to the ballot.
But the problem lies less in the student
body than in the assembly. MSA has come
a long way from fact-finding missions --
but they have failed to convince students to
vote or of the importance of ballot issues
and other assembly business.
Sorry, posters picturing the family dog
are not the way to go. That tactic only shows
that the representative had a childhood -
and has little or no concern for the issues or
the students. Try again.
MSA also should investigate ways to make
voting more accessible. For example,
Rackham's Student Government has a system
to allow students to vote over the World Wide
Web; it has been in place for two semesters.
Turnout in the first election was similar
to before the system was implemented;
however, this system has vast potential to
increase turnout. Not all students who wish
to vote can make it to the polls. By allowing
voting via the Internet, more students would
be able to cast their ballots.
MSA is designed to be a governing body
for the majority of the students -- but if
only a fraction of the students vote, it
becomes a tool of the minority.
the smog
d help clean the air

However, an industry coalition has
already voiced its strong opposition, a voice
that is sure to gain momentum. Many
industries resist the new clean-air regula-
tions because of the millions of dollars they
cost to implement. Because of the opposi-
tion, Congress will probably review the
new regulations.
However, industries' complaints are
unfounded. The new regulations are about
prevention - the problem of air pollution
already exists, and current laws are not
enough to keep the air clean and people
healthy. The cost of implementing new reg-
ulations is not a choice or something that
would be nice to do for the environment -
they are crucial to the future of people's
And, in the long run, the cost of new
equipment is a small price to pay. As air
conditions continue to worsen, it is likely
companies will find themselves paying
more health insurance to cover employees
who are affected by dirty air.
About four out of 10 people suffer from
smog-induced respiratory problems; the
nation should rush to do whatever needed to
protect itself. Los Angeles is infamous for
the thick smog that blankets the city. But it
is not alone - many other cities are start-
ing to resemble this condition, and the
problems are quickly spreading to rural
areas. The proposed regulations would help
stop what is already an out-of-control prob-
lem, and they help prevent unnecessary air-
pollution-related deaths.
When the health of a nation is at stake,
+1, ra chnl, a, h.-,4 nn,.n nflci. o ., Fl, at1,ar *1, Inure

Schor lacks
While some students and
university publications may
have a glowing opinion of
Michigan Student Assembly
representative and candidate
Andy Schor, it is important
to note that his posturing
with regard to student of
color groups is often not well
thoughtout or even desired.
Recently, Schor wrote a
letter to the Daily concerning
the student fee increases
("Too many fee increase pro-
posals," 11/12/96). In his let-
ter, he wrote, "In that case,
why not support a ballot
question for groups that are
students of color? ... I am
sure that Alianza and La Voz
would agree." More impor-
tant than either organization's
opinion concerning the fee
proposal, is the disregard and
condescension with which
Schor chose to use our name.
Does Schor think he is so
intimately involved with
Alianza that he can speak for
us whenever it is convenient
for him'? How can he be so
"sure" we have a certain view
when he has not bothered to
contact us? I find it danger-
ously close to stereotyping
that Schor is making such
assumptions about what
Alianza believes. I don't
remember seeing Schor at
any Alianza meetings (unless
it was last year during a per-
functory campaign visit), and
I certainly haven't seen him
putting in the long hours and
hard work which those asso-
ciated with Alianza do in
order to make a space for
Latinos/as on this campus.
Cut language
I am writing about the
foreign language requirement
for LSA. I, unlike the student
who wrote in to you Nov. 20
("Language requirement"),
did have to take two semes-
ters of a foreign language.
Although I passed out of two
semesters, I still had to deal
with a year of a subject that
did not enrich my life in any
way. I had to take a class
where I was forced to memo-
rize words that I would forget
after the final exam. I had to
try to speak a language to
others in my class who could
speak no better than I could.
I had to attend a class four
times a week when I could
have been taking a prerequi-
site for my concentration. For
these and many other reasons
I feel that the requirement
should be abolished so no

whether my fellow class-
mates enjoyed to play basket-
ball on the weekend.
Although we did study the
holidays and daily lives of
Spanish-speaking cultures, I
could not learn about them
because the readings were in
a language that I did not fully
understand. Perhaps it would
behoove those in charge of
writing the curriculum to
consider classes that actually
teach us about other cultures.
I have learned far more
about the lives of different
people in Anthropology 101,
and that is only an introduc-
tory class. Taking two anthro-
pology classes would certain-
ly increase the student body's
understanding of such topics
much more than the current
foreign language classes.
Another important reason
why we are told to fulfill this
requirement is to create a
more broad-based curricu-
lum. Unfortunately this rigid
four semester requirement
gives the student no leeway.
We are not receiving a broad-
based education, but one that
limits the choices that we are
free to make as tuition-paying
students. Instead of allowing
exploration through the
course guide come scheduling
time, many students have to
save time to take their
required foreign language
class. Additionally, many stu-
dents like myself are discov-
ering that when they finally
decide on a concentration
program they need to take
another foreign language that
actually aids them in prepar-
ing for the future. Maybe the
individual programs should
be the ones who choose what
language or what culture we
need to study in order to be
ready for our lives after
school. That is why we attend
this university, is it not?
Although I have complet-
ed my requirement, I am still
very angry for the wasted
time and effort. I am fully
behind the Michigan Student
Assembly's candidates to
abolish this foolish part of
our time here. I will continue
the fight for the abolishment
of the foreign language
requirement, and ask others
to help me. If anyone else is
ready to end this, e-mail me
at ericdm@umich.edu and
tell me what 1 can do.
Enough people have com-
plained about languages here;
it is time to end the suffering.
Winters did
right thing
I am writing in support of
Charles Winters. I had to live
with an abusive stepfather for
seven years, and I wish that
people would try to under-

society. Maybe my opinions
are too strong, but I have sim-
ilar feelings toward my ex-
stepfather. If the man who
abused my mother and I ever
tried to re-enter our home, I
would have done the same
Smokers are
I am writing in response
to your article "'Smokeout
aims to stop cigarette use"
(11/22/96). Although I agree
with your intentions to give
publicity to the University
Students Against Cancer and
their efforts to help people
stop smoking, which I
believe is a very noble thing
to do, I have to question
some of the content of the
article and wonder why it
was included.
Being a non-smoker, and
never having lit up in my life,
I am pleased to see that the
United States has opened its
eyes and realized the dangers
of smoking. I enjoy being
able to walk into public
buildings and to have them
smoke free. The article had a
quote that likened smokers to
handicapped people. In the
Daily's defense, I realize that
this wasn't spoken by one of
the staff, but should the quote
be present in such an article?
Handicapped people, for
the most part, are either born
with their handicap, or receive
the handicap over the course
of their life, by accident. I
have never met a handicapped
person who is handicapped by
choice. If this is true, then
how can smokers be similar to
handicapped people?
I agree that Nicotine has
been proven to be an addictive
drug. But in my 19 years of
life, I have never witnessed
someone who was forced to
smoke. The first cigarette is a
choice, a choice made by the
smoker, along with every sub-
sequent cigarette. It is time
that people learn to take
responsibility for their actions.
I am sorry for Kristina
Primorac and Shawn Ohl, but
I have no sympathy.
Sometime in their lives
they made a choice to begin
smoking cigarettes. No person
at this university should have
to cater toward them because
they have chosen to become
addicted to a drug. It is possi-
ble to quit smoking and many
have managed to do so.
Unfortunately, it is also true
that smoking and second-hand
smoke causes cancer, and can-
cer kills people. I value my
health and it should never be
placed in jeopardy because of
another's addiction. My
advice to smokers: If you
don't want to stand outside in

capture and
exploit the
American way
Le Columnist admitting he is out of
~.touch with popular culture: Not
once have I had the pleasure of sitting
through an entire
episode ofeany-
thing on the Fox
network, I have no
idea who Jenny
McCarthy is, and I
have not seen a
major Hollywood
film production
Muppets Take
Manhattan." SAMUEL
Feeling as if I may GOODSTEIN
be missing out on
something, this past weekend was set
aside to explore the state of American
television, columnist's notebook in
My conclusion: Had Mozart lived in
the late 20th century, he probably
would have worked for an advertising
agency. Ads, after all, are the great
operas of our time. Comedy, tragedy,
history - you can get it all during the
break of your favorite television pro-
gram. My own favorite ad depicts two
scantily dressed men and a similarly
exposed woman pouring milk on each
other, with the purpose of encouraging
us to buy jeans.
Generally far more entertaining than
the shows with which they appear, ads
have become an art form worthy of
their own awardsashow (which is the
highest level of acclaim any artistic
medium can achieve today), and have
become one of the largest industries in
the world: hundreds of millions of dol-
lars per day spent just so you and I will
buy the latest piece of garbage to hit
the market.
Why should it be any surprise that
ads are more impressive than the
shows themselves? After all, the shows
only exist so that we can see the ads -
salesmanship in its highest form. We
are all exposed to mindless drivel in
12-minute increments so we can be
exposed to brilliant marketing in 30-
second spots: America at its finest!
So consumption, and the promotion
of same, has been elevated to an art-
form. What are the consequences?
For one, the arts themselves suffer as
talented, creative artists are tempted to
pursue careers in the world of con-
sumption, instead of the world of art.
This, as far as I am concerned, is just
another one of the many reasons why
the arts should receive dramatic
increases in funding, instead of being
slashed - putting the arts at a compet-
itive advantage with consumer-driven
creativity should be a national priority.
(Ah, my inclinations to suggest pub-
lic policies get in the way of my blath-
ering social criticism again.)
Back to the commentary.
My gripes are more than aesthetic.
Psychiatrists have conducted experi-
ments that demonstrate that the atten-
tion span of the average American has
been reduced due to the bombardment
of television ads that we see during the
average 30-some hours per week that
each of us spends in front of the tele-
vision. We are growing so accustomed
to receiving information in brief, sim-
plistic units that some people can no
longer sitthrough a feature-length
film without either losing interest or

craving a Coke ad.
This phenomenon, of course, has
political implications (here we go
again). Politicianstand their consul-
tants - especially their consultants -
have their finger on the pulse of
American culture, and they understand
our craving for short, meaning-free
The result: Political campaigns are
decided over the airwaves, and the
politician with the best ad-team has
the upper leg.
One political media adviser told me
that most people need to see a political
commercial four or five times before
they can repeat the key message, and
up to 10 or more times before they can
regurgitate the contents of the ad. The
most critical consequence of our con-
sumption-hungry, substance-starving
commercial age is not political ads or
a weakened artistic landscape, howev-
er. The most important consequence is
In the early 20th century, a social
critic named Samuel Strauss coined
the phrase "consumptionism." Strauss
believed that Americans were being
consumed by their own consumption,
and were beginning to be obsessed by
a culture that encouraged - and wor-
shiped - the consumption of more
and more goods. He was correct. What
Strauss couldn't have imagined was
the incredible environmental degrada-
tion that our consumptiontwould cre-










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